Finding a job is challenging for everyone however add in a disability or long-term health condition and it can become even more challenging.
The following top tips will help make your job hunting easier:
Identify your ‘plus’.
If you are going to ‘sell’ yourself to an employer, you need to know what you are selling; i.e. you need to know what your strengths are. When you have a disability it can be all too easy to think about what you can’t do, can no longer do or find difficult to do as opposed to think about the skills, strengths and abilities that you have developed as a result of managing your disability in a world that isn’t always geared up to it. Skills such as resilience, adaptability, determination and problem solving – all skills that employers are constantly looking for.
Write your ‘openness statement’
For most of us, our disability or health condition isn’t going to go away. We therefore need to work out how we are going to disclose our disability to a potential employer and ask for the support we need to demonstrate our ability during the recruitment process. Writing an ‘openness statement’ that you are happy to share, makes this process so much easier.
Having, or acquiring, a disability or health condition may result in you having ‘differences’ on your CV such as gaps in your education, lower grades or a lack of work experience. These are referred to as ‘mitigating circumstances’ and will be taken into consideration by an employer. What is important, however, is to position these positively. For example, rather than just saying you had to take time out from your studies due to your disability state what skills you developed during this time or if you have a lack of work experience, state the strengths you have developed as a result of managing your disability/health condition.
To ace the recruitment process you may need support or changes to be made; these are often referred to as ‘reasonable adjustments’. Employers are used to making adjustments for candidates including, but not limited to additional time, documents in larger font, an interpreter or a change to the format of the interview.
Whilst it is difficult to know exactly what support you may require until you know what the process is, it is worth giving some thought to this so that you can advise the employer of your needs when the time comes.
Discover disability confident employers
It is fair to say that some employers are more disability confident than others and it is worth finding out as much as you can about a potential employer ahead of applying not least that ultimately you don’t want to work with an employer who is not going to support you. Use their website to find information on their approach to diversity in general, and disability in particular including information about how they support both their employees and job applicants.
Don’t give up
Rejection is part of the job-hunting process. Everyone will face rejection – and it has nothing to do with having a disability. Allow yourself a couple of hours to feel disappointed and then pick yourself up and keep on going. And, most importantly, learn from your experiences; there is no point in continuing to use the same CV or application form if it leads to rejection. Instead, you need to critically review it and identify why it may be leading to your being rejected and how you can improve it.
For further free careers advice and tips, visit www.myplusstudentsclub.com. This website provides students with disabilities with the advice and support they need to navigate the recruitment process and achieve their career potential.